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Roman and Latin colonies

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Roman Latium
Roman Latium | Photo: Ancient World Mapping Center

In addition to the Roman colonies being strategic hubs, whose inhabitants were full Roman citizens, so-called Latin colonies whose inhabitants did not have full political rights. The Latin colonies had autonomy and were obliged to provide Rome with a military contingent during the war.

The existence of Latin colonies (in the region of the mouth of the Tiber and the Alban Hills) is associated with the victory of the Romans over the Latins in the 4th century BCE. Latins (Latini) fought the dominant Rome of the Apennine Peninsula with varying luck. Ultimately, however, the process of the conquest of Italy also engulfed the Latin cities. After a two-year war (340 – 338 BCE), Latins succumbed to Rome, which dissolved the Union as a political organization and transformed it into the Union of Italy, which became a cult institution under the authority of Rome.

The inhabitants of the defeated Latin cities became the second category of members of the Italian Union (apart from full-fledged Roman citizens and the so-called socii or “allies”) and were citizens under Latin law (ius Latii). They retained ius commercii (full property rights) and ius conubii (the right to marry according to florists’ law), but were deprived of ius honourum (the right to hold of offices and ius suffragii (the right to vote) – thus they had no influence on the Roman political scene, literally speaking not Roman citizens, but Latin citizens.

The Latin colonies could not form alliances with each other and were dependent in various forms on Rome. Some of them were incorporated into the Roman state, and others were related to the covenant. The colonies that maintained autonomy had a system similar to the Roman one and the right to mint their own coin. They were obliged to provide a military contingent and had separate cohorts.

In the first century BCE (90 – 88 BCE) there were the so-called wars with allies in which the Latin colonies sided with Rome and fought the Italian Revolt. This proves that the Romans’ idea of ​​incomplete integration was effective, although in the case of the Latins.

Sources
  • Kumaniecki Kazimierz, Historia kultury starożytnej Grecji i Rzymu, Warszawa 1965

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